Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Iranian Train Wreck

The good news is that Israel can now destroy Iranian ballistic missiles. The bad is that the most likely Iranian nuclear assault will be carried out by third parties equipped with nukes by Iran - in the same way it has given shaped-charge IDEs to Iraqi terrorists. Some Israelis are saying that the only defense against an indirect attack is pre-emption. Sadly, they’re right.

First the
good news – the Israeli/US Arrow ABM can shoot down the Iranian Shahab missile:

On Friday December 2, Israel conducted another intercept test of its Arrow ballistic missile defense system…The interceptor, by some accounts the newer, “Arrow-2” interceptor produced and recently delivered by Boeing, successfully destroyed the target…The interception was conducted at a record low altitude….

“We have never before tried the Arrow against the Shahab characteristics, but we know now that we are capable of intercepting all existing ballistic missile threats in the region, whether conventional or non-conventional, and we are developing capabilities to deal with future threats,” Director of the Israel Missile Defence Organisation Arieh Herzog told JDW.

There are two bits of bad news - the Iranians will have nukes very soon; and they’ll use deniable, low-tech delivery, not the Shahab.

After being bought time by the EU team (UK, France, Germany) and covered by the UN, the Iranian nuke program is close to completion – the UN
seems to think so:

IAEA chairman Muhammad ElBaradei on Monday confirmed Israel's assessment that Iran is only a few months away from creating an atomic bomb.

If Teheran indeed resumed its uranium enrichment in other plants, as threatened, it will take it only "a few months" to produce a nuclear bomb, El-Baradei told The Independent.

After building the bomb, they’ll need to test it. Then they have four delivery options:

1. By truck via Gaza – they could do this as soon as they knew the weapon worked.
2. By ship into the port of Haifa – another early option.
3. By airliner – also an early option.
4. By ballistic missile – but, even with Russian and French help, the integration of the warhead and avionics will take several years.

The most likely attack will be carried out by Palestinians using one or more of truck, ship or airliner delivery - the Iranian President said as much in his
recent speech:

…Ahmadinejad said "there is no doubt that the new wave (of attacks) in Palestine will soon wipe off this disgraceful blot (Israel) from the face of the Islamic world. As the Imam (Khomeini) said, Israel must be wiped off the map."

This and his subsequent rants were taken as threats that Iran would attack Israel directly. But he said no such thing, for good reason – if he nukes Israel, he and his country will be incinerated.

Instead, one or more nukes will be detonated as in Israeli cities by suicide bombers. This will cripple the Israeli economy, and damage its retaliatory capability. Iran would disclaim all involvement and offer aid. Iran’s French and Russian allies would threaten a crippled Israel with obliteration if it were to retaliate against the “blameless” Iranians, and also offer aid. The Europeans and the US lefties would all demand that Israel “give peace a chance”.

This leaves Israel with the options of preemption, destruction or surrender, and some Israelis are
thinking about the former:

While Prime Minister Ariel Sharon says the world cannot accept a nuclear Iran, he contends that diplomacy remains the first line of defense. He has not said what should be done if diplomacy fails.

Netanyahu left few doubts about his solution: a pre-emptive strike similar to the 1981 attack ordered by then-Prime Minister Menachem Begin that destroyed an unfinished Iraqi nuclear reactor.

"I will continue the tradition established by Menachem Begin, who did not allow Iraq to develop such a nuclear threat against Israel, and by a daring and courageous act gave us two decades of tranquility," Netanyahu told the Maariv daily. "I believe that this is what Israel has to do."

Because the Iranian weapons facilities are hardened, an Israeli strike will almost certainly be nuclear, and be more effective if carried out before the Russians deploy their
advanced air defenses in Iran.

It’s not clear how this slaughter can be averted.